A good friend of mine from back home in Ottawa sends me the story.
I'm about to go ballistic!
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) denied funding McGill professor Brian Alters on the following grounds:
"The committee found that the candidates were qualified. However, it judged the proposal did not adequately substantiate the premise that the popularizing of Intelligent Design Theory had detrimental effects on Canadian students, teachers, parents and policymakers. Nor did the committee consider that there was adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of Evolution, and not Intelligent Design theory, was correct. It was not convinced, therefore, that research based on these assumptions would yield objective results. In addition, the committee found that the research plans were insufficiently elaborated to allow for an informed evaluation of their merit. In view of its reservations the committee recommended that no award be made." [my emphasis]
It appears there are other grounds for the decision, but the very fact that the emphasized claim was made makes the whole thing stink of "creationist agenda". Never does a researcher have to justify an "assumption" that is, in fact, a recapitulation of the prevailing scientific opinion. Let's even give them the benefit of the doubt: I'll go so far as to pretend that evolution is wrong. It is still the established scientific principle and Prof. Alters doesn't have to justify it any more than we have to cite "Darwin (1859)" every time we want to talk about evolution!
The article quotes Janet Halliwell (a chemist, and SSHRC's executive vice-president) who justified the decision:
Ms. Halliwell added there are phenomena that "may not be easily explained by current theories of evolution," and the scientific world's understanding of life "is not static. There's an evolution in the theory of evolution."Sounds like we have our classic "closet creationist" who uses the fact that science progresses as evidence that current science may be bogus. How did this person ever get a chemistry degree? Should we pan applications that make presumptive appeals to atomic theory simply because we 'don't know everything about the structure of an atom' and that 'there's an evolution in the theory of the atom'? Of course not, because we don't think atoms conflict with our previously conceived viewpoint.
This is a disgrace to academia in Canada. It's ironic that we pronounce the acronym "SSHRC" as "shirk", isn't it?